Video of the Week: Ian Anderson 1982 Interview with David Letterman

Ian Anderson, who just celebrated his 70th birthday, gives a candid, revealing and humorous interview with talk host David Letterman in 1982.

On the 10th Anniversary of His Death, Watch Warren Zevon’s First & Last Appearances on Letterman

Warren Zevon … 'He had tonnes of charisma.'

(Source: Open Culture)

Singer/songwriter Warren Zevon died of lung cancer ten years ago tomorrow. I remember the day of his passing well, but at the time I was a little baffled by the enormous number of tributes to the musician, who I vaguely thought of (stupidly) as a novelty songwriter vaguely associated with the L.A. soft rock scene. How wrong I was. I arrived at the Zevon party late, but I finally showed up, and came to understand why almost every musician from the seventies and eighties that I admire deeply admires Warren Zevon and his hardbitten, witty, and unsentimental narrative style. There’s so much Zevon in so many troubadours I love: Joe Jackson, Tom Waits, Springsteen. Always on the cusp of stardom but never quite a star like peers and former roommates Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks, and Jackson Browne, Zevon was nevertheless one of the most well-regarded writers of the L.A. rock scene. Whether it was his misanthropic commitment to his cynicism—as Allmusic describes his personality—that sidelined him or his struggles with acute alcoholism isn’t entirely clear, but he always had his champions among critics and peers alike.

In addition to the aforementioned luminaries, Zevon’s career was boosted by members of R.E.M., with whom he recorded under the name Hindu Love Gods, and—most visibly and consistently—by David Letterman, who had a twenty year relationship with Zevon as his guest and sometime substitute band leader. At the top of the post, you can see Zevon’s final appearance on Letterman’s show. The two attempt light banter but lapse occasionally into awkward pauses as they discuss Zevon’s diagnosis. The talk is frank and filled with mordant wit, as was Zevon’s way, and Letterman confesses he’s astounded at his longtime friend’s ability to keep his sense of humor. When Letterman asks Zevon if he’s learned something Dave doesn’t know about life and death, Zevon responds with the endlessly quotable line, “not unless I know how much you’re supposed to enjoy every sandwich.” In the clip above, watch one of Zevon’s final performances on the same show. He plays the powerful ballad “Mutineer,” a song with a fitting epitaph for Zevon’s life: “ain’t no room on board for the insincere.”

And in the clip above, see Zevon’s first appearance on Letterman in 1982, playing “Excitable Boy” and “The Overdraft.” Watching these early and late performances, I’m baffled again—this time by why Warren Zevon wasn’t a major star. But it doesn’t matter. Those who know his work, including nearly every major singer/songwriter of the last forty years, know how amazing he was. For more of Zevon’s amazingness, check out this full 1982 concert film from an appearance in Passaic, New Jersey. And please, remember to enjoy every sandwich.

David Letterman Really Likes Drums

drums

(Source: CBC Music)

by Dave Shumka

David Letterman is really into drums. There’s a thing he sometimes does after a band plays on his show: he walks up to the drummer, compliments them on their drums and asks if they’re rentals. We noticed it happening often enough that we combed YouTube for a few dozen instances and created this supercut of Letterman talking to drummers. We also threw in the occasional cellist and harmonium player for good measure.

During our research, we learned a few things:

• David Letterman is pretty much the most charming man in the world.

• Lots of drummers rent their drums to appear on The Late Show.

• Singers tend to look uncomfortable when attention is being paid to a drummer.

• Not surprisingly, Letterman himself plays drums.

Rocket Man, as Interpreted by William Shatner and Parodied by Chris Elliott

Above: Hosting the 1978 Saturn Awards (Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror’s Academy Awards equivalent) Star Trek’s Captain Kirk performs Elton John’s “Rocket Man”, introduced by none other than the song’s co-writer Bernie Taupin (doing his best to look “truly proud”).

Below: Chris Elliott, in an appearance on Letterman, parodies not only the performance but Shatner’s perceived status in the 70’s as acting has-been. Elliott’s TV series Get a Life had recently been cancelled.

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